What is Mindfulness?
Over the last ten years there has been an explosion of interest in mindfulness. Embraced by Harvard Business School and heralded by Time magazine as a ‘Mindful Revolution’ mindfulness has become ubiquitous. But what is it? Mindfulness, a secular form of meditation has multiple applications. In our Guide to Mindfulness you’ll discover;
- Mindfulness definition
- The benefits of mindfulness meditation
- Mindfulness meditation on YouTube
- Mindfulness and neuroscience
- Mindfulness books
- Mindfulness courses in my area
- Examples of mindfulness
Possibly the most well known definition of mindfulness comes from Dr Jon Kabat-Zinn, Professor of Medicine Emeritus and founder of the Stress Reduction Clinic at the University of Massachusetts. His often quoted definition of mindfulness is ‘The first step on the adventure involved in coming to our senses on any and every level…the cultivation of a particular kind of awareness known as mindfulness’. Put simply, mindfulness involves being fully present in the moment, noticing what is happening as it’s happening.
Take a look at this short definition of mindfulness from Jon Kabat Zinn: What is Mindfuness?
Benefits of Mindfulness Meditation
There is a plethora of research based benefits associated with practising mindfulness on a regular basis. Here is a snapshot of the evidenced benefits of mindfulness.
- Increased resilience
- Reduced stress
- Anxiety reduction
- Increased neuroplasticity
- Improved focus
- More flow moments
- Reduced blood pressure
- Increased emotional intelligence
- Greater clarity around decision making
- A boosted immune system
- Improved memory
- Decrease in the symptoms of depression
- Feeling happier
- Improved performance at work
Mindfulness Meditation You Tube
We’ve taken a few of our Guide to Mindfulness favourite videos to get you started.
MINDFULNESS MARK WILLIAMS, PROFESSOR, OXFORD UNIVERSITY. Introduction to Mindfulness
Introduction to Mindfulness with Jon kABAt Zinn
Mindfulness and Neuroscience
Sara Lazar, Harvard Neuroscientist on How Meditation Changes Your Brain
Introductory mindfulness books that we often recommend on our courses are;
- Mindfulness. Finding Peace in a Frantic World, Mark Williams and Danny Penman
- The Miracle of Mindfulness, Thich Nhat Hanh
- Coming to Our Senses, Jon Kabat Zinn
- Mindfulness for Beginners, Jon Kabat Zinn
Mindfulness Courses in my Area
So you’ve read the Koru Guide to Mindfulness and you’re interested in finding out more. If you’re looking for a mindfulness course in your area, a great place to begin your search is Be Mindful
Remember when you’re looking for a mindfulness teacher on Be Mindful it’s important to select one who is registered and adheres to the UK Good Practice Guidelines for Mindfulness Teachers. You’ll recognise them by the yellow ‘listed’ tick next to their details.
This means that they meet the UK mindfulness teacher criteria and adhere to the UK Mindfulness Teachers Good Practice Guidelines. With the yellow tick they are a UK Registered Teacher https://www.ukmindfulnessnetwork.co.uk/guidelines/
Examples of Mindfulness
If you’re still wondering what mindfulness is, ask yourself a few simple questions;
- Do you find yourself constantly checking your Blackberry, iPhone or android? (they’re called Crackberries for a reason!)
- Are you constantly responding to emails?
- Do you compulsively check in with social media?
- Do you sometimes find yourself on your regular commute, arriving at your destination with no recollection of how you got there?
- Does your mind ever wander off during a conversation leaving you nodding your head and wondering what was said?
- Do you zone out on a regular basis, missing huge chunks of your life when you’re on autopilot?
- Did you rush and skim read to the end of these questions?
Think of these questions as the opposite of mindfulness, mind ‘less’ ness. Practicing mindfulness for as little as 10 minutes a day will help you to develop the moment to moment awareness of mindfulness. Here are some simple practices to get you started on your mindfulness journey.
5 Guide to Mindfulness Tips for Practicing Mindfulness
Here are 5 Guide to Mindfulness easy practices to get you started on your mindfulness journey.
Set an Intention
Think of setting your intention as a guiding principle for your day. An intention will help you to focus your awareness and remind you you of why you are practising mindfulness. Examples might be “I want to be less stressed” or “I would like to be more patient” or “I want to increase my resilience”
When you practice mindful breathing, your breath becomes your anchor. It can be useful to consider this visual representation of mindful breathing. Start with your intention and then follow your breath. Your not changing your breathing or looking for anything special to happen. Breathe normally and notice the sensations as you inhale and exhale.
As best you can, bring an open curiosity to your breathing. You’ll find that you become distracted from time to time, that’s just what the mind does (it doesn’t mean that you can’t meditate!). When you notice that you’re distracted, gently bring your focus back to your breath without judging yourself.
Even one minute of mindful breathing is a great a strategy for setting the tone of the rest of your day and building your mindfulness muscles. Start where you are. The more you practice, the more you’ll begin to see the benefits. it’s surprising how easy you’ll find it to incorporate mindfulness into your daily routine.
This practice is deceptively simple. STOP is a practice that anyone can do, at any time during the day. It lasts for 60 seconds and is a fantastic way to disrupt your habitual thinking patterns, shaking you out of cognitive complacency by coming back to the here and now. STOP consists of four simple stages.
(T)ake a breath. Take a deep breath, bringing your focus to the physical sensations and you breathe in and out.
(O)bserve your thoughts as you do so. Pay attention to your thoughts. What are you thinking, right here? right now? Notice your feelings? What’s happening in your body? What sensations are here? Are you able to detect tension, aches, or are you relaxed? Without judgement, ask yourself, how is it for me, right now in this moment?
(P)proceed Breathe again and continue with the task at hand, moving on with your day.
Maybe you’re in a queue, you’re in a hurry and the cashier is having a conversation as you tap your foot in irritation. Or perhaps you’re driving and the lights turn to red and you sit there, just willing them to change. Believe it or not, this is an opportunity for mindfulness. Instead of becoming more and more frustrated, try this waiting practice instead;
Focus on your breath. Notice the sensations. Perhaps you’ll feel a cool stream of air above your upper lip as you inhale and a warmer stream of air in the same area as you exhale.
Now shift your attention to your body.
What sensations are you able to detect? Where and how does your irritation manifest itself in your body? Are your fists bunched up or clenched? is your heart rate increasing? What do you notice as you scan your body?
How about your thoughts? Do you feel frustrated? Annoyed? Impatient? Irritated? Name your thoughts, allowing them to be, just as they are, without criticising yourself. Try saying “This is irritation” to yourself or, one of our favourites from Thich Nhat Hanh, welcoming those thoughts, feelings and emotions like an old friend “Hello annoyance.”
Multitasking is a myth. We know from research in the field of neuroscience that it just isn’t possible. It isn’t possible to truly focus on more than one task at the same time. All we are doing is increasing our error rate and preventing flow (our optimum state of performance). As if that wasn’t bad enough, everything will also take us longer. Take a look at research by Gloria Mark, Professor of Informatics at the University of California who found that when we’re continually distracted we may work faster but we produce less, increasing our error rate. Worse still, research from Stanford University discovered that those who regularly multitask are particularly bad at it, suggesting multitaskers are more easily distracted. So when you think that you’re multitasking, the truth is, you really aren’t you’re just slowing yourself down and reducing your accuracy. All good reasons to employ laser like focus instead.
Practising mindfulness on a regular basis will improve your focus and help you achieve optimum performance (it’s one of the core conditions of flow). We think that isn’t a bad return on investment for the time that you’ll invest in these 5 Guide to Mindfulness practices.
Mindfulness Training Courses
As UK Registered Teachers and International Mindfulness Teacher Association members we work internationally teaching mindfulness to individuals and organisations including Spotify, Google, UK Sport, the V&A, Deloitte, PWC, Ernst & Young, Lancaster University Bonington Leadership Programme to name a few. We offer bitesize mindfulness sessions, one day mindfulness courses and 4, 6 and week mindfulness programmes. We also offer mindful coaching. Get in touch for more information. We’d love to hear from you.
We hope you’ve enjoyed this Guide to Mindfulness as much as we’ve enjoyed creating it for you. If you still have lingering mindfulness questions, let us know using the form above.